You Desire What You Do

“I desire what I do.” This is the life lesson I see now looking back into the fog. (see previous post) Yes, waking up time after time throughout the night, nursing, and the mental stress of running a business were definitely reasons I felt drained. But the real reason I was drained was because the things I thought were going to fill me up, were really empty promises. What I thought would drain me more, is what set up my daily life in a way that is filling and fulfilling.

The Drain

Why would anyone choose to stay in habits that are draining them for so long? Well my friend, because I’m human and it’s what we do. We believe the false promises and get stuck on the merry-go-round hoping that if we stay on long enough we’ll get where we want to be. What we actually get is lulled into thinking it’s the only way to arrive at our destination.

My lies

My merry-go-round revolved around sleep and energy. I believed in a few lies that kept me on the ride:

  1. Being miserable and sleep deprived is just how motherhood is.
  2. To spend my precious amount of energy on things that helped me would be wasteful.

Because I accepted sleep deprivation as the way motherhood goes, I didn’t look for any solutions to my problem for the longest time. I knew of a few ways to get babies to sleep longer, but none of them aligned with my parenting or my daughter’s personality.

Because taking care of an infant required more constant time and energy than anything I had ever done before, I felt I had a scarcity of resources. This feeling of scarcity left me paralyzed. Even when I had a pocket of time or motivation to be productive–I did nothing–worried that if I used that energy at that time, then I would have nothing left for a time when I may need it more.

If you’re sitting there thinking, “That doesn’t really make sense,” you’re right! That merry-go-round was quite disorienting. And the insidiousness of the lies we believe is that they feed off of our worry, sadness, and fear. They take normal emotions felt by normal people and lead them off track just enough to keep them off balance, but not so far as to be totally obvious.

The Cure

Kid #2 was a way better sleeper, and I knew after he started sleeping through the night that I had no more excuses for staying in survival mode. I started reading and listening to women who had been in a similar place and overcome their fog. One theme rose to the top: start somewhere and do something! [insert face palm emoji]

As a counselor, I knew this was true. I had been challenging clients with this very thought for years, but it never occurred to me that I needed to hear my own counsel.

My Starting Points

As an enneagram 7 I take pleasure in doing little bits of everything and never fully committing. Basically I used the thrown spaghetti method (throw spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks). I started decluttering, working out, reading like 5 different nonfiction books (no joke), started cleaning routines, and restarted a Bible study I had never finished. If I heard it on a podcast and it sparked motivation then I would try it.

In true 7 style I would take a deep dive into that “thing of the day/week” and think, “THIS is what’s going to keep me away from that fog ever again.” I see now that was just another lie. Not a mean ugly one, but still a lie. However, that lie did get me doing something and that jump start was what I desperately needed.

Collateral Damage

In my frenzy to start all the things, there were other things that got diminished in the process. Those sweet things that I had previously clung to hoping they would offer me rest and restoration of my mind started to naturally fall away. I had proof of concept that when I chose to do my Bible study after putting the baby down for the night I felt better than when I chose to turn on the TV. I had proof of concept that when I chose to work out in the middle of the day instead of napping, I had more energy, it took less time, and I felt more refreshed.

RIP: all day TV watching and {most} napping.

The Life Lesson

By changing what I was doing throughout the day, I changed what I desired.

In the fog, I knew I wanted to be someone who felt accomplished at the end of the day, but I got stuck in habits that felt good in the moment and didn’t bring me a single step closer to accomplishing anything. When I changed what I was doing by adding in good things, I naturally had less time and desire to spend on the bad habits.

The more I chose the good over the bad, the more experience I had to prove to myself that the energy spent on myself and my lists of tasks did not take away, but gave me more time and energy to spend on what I really enjoy in life. The more I cleaned up in little bits throughout the day—>the less I had to clean up after the kids went to bed—>the more motivated I was to get that last little bit done—>waking up to a tidy house—>joy.

So Where Do You Start?

If you are feeling in a funk/fog/forest, whether it’s been a few days or a few years, you do not have to stay there. The 3 big habits that really stuck for me were: daily Bible study, working out, and decluttering. These 3 new habits (or returning old habits) fed my mind, spirit, and body so that I could be available to serve those whom I serve at work and at home.

So start talking to people who have been where you are. Start following people online who want to help you (like me on IG @phoebekate). Listen to podcasts of inspiring stories. What gives you butterflies or makes your heart race and your mind think that is something that would bring me joy if I could just do it. And then DO IT. Make the doctor’s appointment to get your hormones checked, go to lunch with your bestie (sans kids), declutter one drawer, start reading a book.

It won’t be perfect, but you will have a start. Your progress will compound and one day you will wake up and think, “Wow, I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I think the fog has lifted.”

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